Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell introduced AB 1771 on Wednesday to combat the commercial sex trade, according to a release.
While Long Beach has been at the center of many successful prosecutions involving human trafficking, O’Donnell believes that state law “has yet to catch up to the growing connection between gangs and human trafficking,” the release stated.
“The bill makes a gang member’s membership admissible evidence in cases of supervising a prostitute,” stated the release, alongside increasing the maximum penalty for supervising a prostitute from six months to a year, which is a misdemeanor. O’Donnell is partnering with the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office to introduce the bill.
“Many think of human trafficking as a crime committed overseas, far removed from our own world experience,” said Assemblymember O’Donnell in a statement. “In fact, children and mentally scarred victims of abuse are forced into the sex trade by violent gangs operating right here in our community.”
While some misdemeanors require a sentence of up to one year in jail, supervising a prostitute will only amount to spending six months in jail. AB 1771 seeks to give prosecutors the tools to hold gang members more accountable for their crimes, according to the release.
“The most callous criminals involved in organized crime see sex trafficking as more profitable and lower risk than traditional illicit enterprises,” stated Long Beach City Prosecutor, Doug Haubert. “A gang member can only sell a gun or drugs once before they need to replenish their supply. Through a steady routine of physical and mental intimidation, however, that same gang member is able to sell a person over and over again. I commend Assemblymember O’Donnell for working to curb this repulsive criminal behavior.”
The bill now awaits referral to its first policy committee.
Above, left: File photo.